CXCL12 (stromal cell-derived factor-1, SDF-1) is a potent chemokine for homing of CXCR4+ fibrocytes to injury sites of lung tissue, which contributes to pulmonary fibrosis. Overexpression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) plays a critical role in pulmonary fibrosis. In this study, we investigated the roles of Rac1, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and activator protein-1 (AP-1) in CXCL12-induced CTGF expression in human lung fibroblasts. CXCL12 caused concentration- and time-dependent increases in CTGF expression and CTGF-luciferase activity. CXCL12-induced CTGF expression was inhibited by a CXCR4 antagonist (AMD3100), small interfering RNA of CXCR4 (CXCR4 siRNA), a dominant negative mutant of Rac1 (RacN17), a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase (MEK) inhibitor (PD98059), a JNK inhibitor (SP600125), a p21-activated kinase inhibitor (PAK18), c-Jun siRNA, and an AP-1 inhibitor (curcumin). Treatment of cells with CXCL12 caused activations of Rac1, Rho, ERK, and c-Jun. The CXCL12-induced increase in ERK phosphorylation was inhibited by RacN17. Treatment of cells with PD98059 and SP600125 both inhibited CXCL12-induced c-Jun phosphorylation. CXCL12 caused the recruitment of c-Jun and c-Fos binding to the CTGF promoter. Furthermore, CXCL12 induced an increase in α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression, a myofibroblastic phenotype, and actin stress fiber formation. CXCL12-induced actin stress fiber formation and α-SMA expression were respectively inhibited by AMD3100 and CTGF siRNA. Taken together, our results suggest that CXCL12, acting through CXCR4, activates the Rac/ERK and JNK signaling pathways, which in turn initiates c-Jun phosphorylation, and recruits c-Jun and c-Fos to the CTGF promoter and ultimately induces CTGF expression in human lung fibroblasts. Moreover, overexpression of CTGF mediates CXCL12-induced α-SMA expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)